I love to imagine the backstory of the lives of people in the Bible. What was their life like before God stepped in with an assignment. I imagine Mary was in the middle of planning her wedding, all the little intricate details that goes along with it. Maybe she was thinking about her future with Joseph and what that would look like.
Then God interrupts and sends Gabriel with a very unexpected announcement…
“Mary, you have found favor in sight of God, you are chosen to be the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God.” She doesn’t completely understand it all, but because of her trust and faith in God she accepted her role. She goes to tell her good news to her cousin Elizabeth, and they celebrate. Mary then rejoices and magnifies the Lord because she knows she is blessed.
When God interrupts life in the middle of well laid plans, He always has a purpose. We may not fully understand the direction He is taking us – and Gabriel may not show up with a big announcement. But if our trust and faith is in The Lord, we can accept the role He has set before us and know that He is God, His way and thoughts are higher than ours. He knows exactly what we need, when we need it, and the blessing that will be from it.
In Luke 2:19 “Mary pondered all the things in her heart”.
I can only imagine the wonder in her eyes as she looked at her baby! Mary did you know that the child you just delivered would one day deliver you? Did you know when you kissed His cheeks, you kissed the face of God?
Merry Christmas to all! Remember Jesus is the reason for the season! He is worth celebrating!
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.”—-Matthew 2:1-2
But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.—-Luke 2:10-11, 20
We’re at the beginning of the Christmas season. It can become a pretty busy time of year, and we can easily become overwhelmed if we are not careful. While work continues, extra stuff is thrown into our schedules. We are expected to decorate, to provide food, buy gifts, wrap and deliver gifts, and just do more stuff, all while maintaining our regular schedules. In light of the busyness, it’s easy to lose our focus.
At church Sunday, we kicked off the season with Christmas carols. All of them were announcing the birth of our Savior, and I was prompted to consider my response. This busy time of year should not cause us to respond in weariness. We have been given the most precious gift of all, Jesus. Everything we do in celebrating Christmas should be done with joy. Let us be like the wise men and worship the King. Let us be like the shepherds and glorify and praise God for sending His Son into the world so we might experience salvation. I love the words by Chris Tomlin.
Come and see what God has done
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Everything we do this Christmas season should be in celebration of the amazing love that has been given to us. Don’t let the busyness make you weary. Let the busyness become opportunities to worship and celebrate the most precious Gift ever given.
So often our prayers quickly fill up with concerns, questions, doubts, and heart desires. It’s important to remember to give thanks to the Lord. He didn’t promise us a beautiful easy life. He did promise us to be a loving Father that walks along side us as we run the race set before us. (Hebrews 12)
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1
Does the Lord want to hear our concerns, questions, doubts, and heart desires? You know it. Fill your prayers with it. His ears and arms are open. But through this may we walk with gentleness and remember to give thanks. He sculpted us and made us in his image. He knows our heart. You don’t have to worry about that. He sees your worries. Your heartache. He wants us to run to his arms. Whether that is crying out for help or guidance or to voice our concerns. Through this – may we remember the scripture. Remember the Father’s everlasting love he has for us. He is good. He has been faithful and loving since the garden and will continue to be. With that knowledge, give thanks. Thank him on the good days. Thank him through the tough seasons that you’re unsure of his plan. It’s difficult. Trust me, I know. It’s difficult to find thankfulness when we live within a dark world. Let’s be honest, it’s difficult to say thank you when we feel like the plan within our mind would be a lot smoother. Thank him anyways. He understands our human nature. On the days it’s extra hard to give thanks, may the Holy Spirit fill your heart and mind with the goodness and faithfulness of Jesus Christ.
So today Jesus, I thank you. I know you want to hear from me. I know your ears and arms are open for me to voice my concerns, worries, doubts, and heart desires. I know you are faithful. But today Jesus I also want to emphasize how good of a Father you are, and give you ultimate thanks. I don’t say it enough. I want to thank you for being all you are. Thank you for loving this world, even though we don’t deserve an ounce of your love. Thank you for loving and guiding me. Even on my extra rough days. Thank you.
Have you ever been in a funk with God? No worries friend, we all have. Let’s talk about it.
Let’s talk about that hard fall from grace followed by the comeback. It always seems to be such an overwhelming and unexpected come back. Doesn’t it? When you feel so incredibly isolated and alone and just completely overwhelmed it’s like you hear, “Hey sweet girl… I’m still here… I still love you… I still can help you here, let’s fix our relationship.” (Long pause for deep breaths and a moment of thankfulness for these moments).
See I one hundred percent DO NOT deserve Him continuing to walk with me in these funks. I deserve to walk those times alone because at the end of the day I alone am the reason I am there. So, why should He have to keep finding me in these places and without hesitation giving me the opportunity to set things straight with Him and in my life? Alas, He does it anyways.
Isaiah 54:10 says, “For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
You guys already know I am a lover of words so let’s look at these; steadfast=faithful. Right off the bat God says I am faithful to you child. Covenant= blessings. God says this is me blessing YOU. I read that to say, “I am blessing you with a comeback game.” I don’t know about you guys, but that seriously just overwhelms me with thankfulness immediately. I am that sheep. You know the one I’m talking about, right? The sheep that is always the ONE in the ninety-nine that has ADHD and just can not seem to stop wondering off and looking up 4 miles away surrounded by wolves; realizing “Uhhhhh how long have I been walking??? Where even am I?? Ohhh man… this is it… the end… there is no way I can find myself back out of this mess.”
See, it does not matter how we got in this funk or what caused us to drift from the herd. What matters is that He blesses us with a comeback – every single time.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.” Lamentations 3:22.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
This seems to be a subject the word keeps on repeat. Flowing all through the bible are reminders that YOU ARE WORTHY of a comeback game with the Father.
So, when you feel that attempt at resolution from God, know that it is as simple as saying yes. It doesn’t take much to flip that switch back on and open that door of prayer and relying on Him instead of ourselves. It literally only takes a yes. Yes, Lord I trust you and need you. I can’t do it without you. He doesn’t need a dozen red roses with an apology card. See, God is asking you to just see Him there and say yes. That’s it. What an incredible blessing of grace He has given us.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I haven’t really ever thought of worship as anything more than the act of singing to God, until recently. But, it is so much more than that and I’m so incredibly thankful that God has not just allowed us to worship him so freely but has called us to do so!
However, to give God true worship our hearts must be in the right place. We have to lay all our sins, our worry, our past, our pride, our weary broken selves down at the feet of Jesus. We must do this before worship! It’s a time for us to take a deep breath and say “This is not mine Lord, but yours.” Hand it over to him, praising and glorifying his amazing name.
Yes, worship is with your peers at church but I challenge you to intentionally find a moment each day to give God the true worship he longs for from you. Maybe while,
– washing those endless loads of dishes and laundry
– disciplining your children
– at work
– watering your garden
– cooking and cleaning up that Thanksgiving meal!
Be creative and make sure you lay it all on the foot of the cross!
“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30
As I thought about what Thanksgiving means to me, I asked myself, What does it even mean to give thanks?
Sure, we can recite blessings around the table.
We can praise God for every gift from above.
But how do we LIVE in a way
that truly gives thanks to God?
How do we walk in Thanksgiving?
I found my answer in 2 Corinthians 9:
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Thanksgiving is more than a meal.
It’s more than listing our blessings.
It’s more than a time to give thanks.
When we are obedient with what we are given, there will be thanksgiving.
When we are generous on every occasion, there will be thanksgiving.
When we meet others’ needs, thanksgiving overflows.
Our giving gives God glory.
Our giving is the Gospel in action.
Our giving gives others a reason to praise!
That is thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving comes when
we live out the simple Gospel.
It comes from us sacrificing
our wants to meet others’ needs.
It comes from us laying down our
lives to love those around us better.
Thanksgiving comes from being purposeful with our possessions in order to praise our Provider.
Maybe you need to give more
time to family instead of work.
Maybe you need to give an
invite to a lonely neighbor.
Maybe you need to give up
your dream to meet His needs.
Maybe you need to save now
so that you can give later.
Ask God to show you WHO in your life has a need that you can help meet.
Ask Him to show you WHAT you need to give up in order to give more.
Let’s follow the model of our Giver and purposefully give thanks this holiday season.
I’m someone who thinks and talks a lot about thankfulness and praising God for all my blessings. I haven’t always been that way, though. I guess we all live and learn, and certainly events in my life have shaped how thankful I am now…specifically my mommy’s fight with cancer.
I am thankful for much in my life – people and even stuff. I’m thankful for my family and friends and job and home and on and on and on. Some people would say you shouldn’t be thankful for material things, but I will not lie, I’m grateful for the conveniences and fun our life provides. My life is nice and pleasant, and I know the Lord has been too sweet to me.
The kind of thankfulness I learned because of mommy, though, wasn’t for things or even people. It’s probably one of the most important kinds of thankfulness any of us can have, and I do believe that most people don’t even think about it. For CERTAIN, I was not thankful for this until Mommy was diagnosed with lymphoma.
This is a thankfulness for health and the health of our families.
Talk about taking something for granted. I would bet if there’s a list of stuff most people aren’t grateful enough for in the world, health is at the top of that list.
It DEFINITELY was for me.
I don’t think most people recognize that without health, nothing else really matters.
It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how big your house is or how many likes you get on Facebook or how pretty you are or how fancy your car is or how important you are at your job.
All those are things we desire, and they’re sure nice to have, but they just flat out don’t matter when we’re not healthy. When we’re UNhealthy, that is ALL that matters.
Being healthy can mean something as simple as having the ability to walk around and get where you want to go.
How many days in my life did I go without thanking the Lord for THAT?
Before Mommy got sick, she was just like all of us living life, and she enjoyed every minute of it.
And then she got sick, and everything changed.
I’m embarrassed to say the day they told me she was sick was NOT the day I realized I wasn’t as grateful for my health as I needed to be.
I do know the exact moment in time when it happened, though.
I was waiting outside Casa Ole for an order one evening after spending the day shopping. I called the order in, and it wasn’t ready when I got there. I went out to my car to wait, and I was aggravated. Of course I didn’t act ugly to the people, but I sure told my husband about it and was not happy I was having to sit there. Then a thought popped in my mind that was not my own…I envisioned my poor little mommy who was home after a long hospital stay at MDA. By that time, she had lost the ability to drive because of her poor vision and difficulty in thinking and remembering. She couldn’t do any of the things I had done all day long.
What would she have given to drive herself to a restaurant to order food and wait in her own car or even feed herSELF the food?
I bet she would’ve given every single thing she had to have her health back, and I’ll tell you what, I bet the rest of us would’ve given all we had to get her health back, too.
Gosh, I think we still would.
That was the moment I knew – I was NOT thankful for my health, and I sure needed to be. Because God had given me my HEALTH, I was able to go and do and love and laugh and work and LIVE.
That was the day I literally started thanking God every single day of my life, multiple times a day, for my health and the health of my family.
Isn’t it funny how God uses the oddest of circumstances to teach us the biggest of lessons?
My life-changing moment, the one when God gave me clarity on the blessing of my health, just happened to be in the parking lot at Casa Ole.
If you haven’t thanked the Lord for your health today – do.
And then start doing it every day from here on out.
Health is one of our absolute greatest gifts from God.
November brings Thanksgiving celebrations that call us to remember the past, while encouraging an awareness of our present. November reminds me of my daddy’s birthday. Although I’m always thinking of him, there’s something about seeing the date on my calendar. With his birthday comes sweet memories of days gone by. We call them “precious memories” – valuable memories stored in my heart. I liken it to a personal filing cabinet that only I have access to. Some people have amazing memories and can recollect things like the names of their classmates from 40 years ago, the toy they received on their 7th birthday, etc. My memory is okay, I guess, but my husband’s is better. He will ask me things like, “Remember so and so?” “Remember when we saw this or did that?” Many times I honestly cannot remember or the details are rather foggy. Did you know there are individuals who have what’s called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory- HSAM? These individuals are able to accurately recall dates and details of their lives, even going back decades. According to research, HSAM is extraordinarily rare with less than 100 people in the world that have been diagnosed with HSAM. There came a time that my daddy forgot who I was. It didn”t happen instantly, but over time. It was a slow fade of his memory and then the diagnosis came-Alzheimer’s. When we first noticed the difficulty he would have retrieving information about people and events, we would engage him with stories of the past, display pictures, and place mementos out that we hoped would keep him with us a little longer. Eventually memories of his life and his family became silent. His memory problem became a heart problem – my heart problem. A memory problem became a heart problem… I”ve found myself reflecting on this thought. Moses warned God’s people about what memory problems could do to the human heart. He called the people to remember all that God had told them and done for them in the past as they prepared to go in and occupy the land God had promised. “Deuteronomy 8:11-When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws, and his decrees that I am giving you this day.” “vs. 14 – then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” We know that the people did forget and that caused a heart problem. Because God knew we would have a heart problem, He gave His one and only Son. I am thankful Jesus was willing to give His life as a perfect sacrifice. A sacrifice that redeemed me from the slavery of sin. I am thankful that God knew I would need help remembering, so that a
memory problem wouldn’t become my heart problem. I am thankful that I have His Word to remind me… because my memory isn’t always the best. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalms 103:2-5 NKJ Happy Thanksgiving! May you always be reminded of the great things He has done.
On New Year’s Day several years ago, I created a “thankful” jar. For that year, every time something happened for which I was grateful, whether for me or my family, I wrote it on a piece of paper and placed it in that jar.
The following Christmas morning, I gathered my family, and one by one, we retrieved each of those papers and read them aloud. We took the time to recall every memory and verbally gave thanks to Jesus for what He had done in those moments. That was His birthday present from me that year, my intentionality in remembering all the things He had done. It didn’t matter the size of the moment, God still showed Himself big.
Sometimes, we can become so overwhelmed by what we are lacking that we forget to remember and be thankful for what we do have. I encourage you to find something like the thankful jar and begin to cultivate a garden of thankfulness in your heart and mind, a garden that can be harvested from no matter the season, and watch your perspective of everything you encounter each day shift.
I once heard someone say, “You steer where you stare,” and it’s true. If you keep your focus on what you lack, that’s where you will steer your heart, life, and mind, and you’ll find yourself wondering why you cannot see the light of day. Keep your eyes focused on Him and what He has provided, and you’ll find yourself fully surrounded by all of Heaven.
Make no mistake, all of Heaven is around you no matter where you’re staring, but it’s so much harder to glimpse something that’s in your periphery than it is when you’re eyes are locked directly onto it.
When God created Adam, he could have spoken him into existence just like he did everything else, but He didn’t. He formed him with his own hands and then breathed life into him. When Adam first opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was the Father’s face. Why? Because that’s where God wanted our focus from the beginning. He wanted our eyes on Him and nothing else. He knew that if our eyes ever left His face we would fall. And we did. Just ask Peter what can happen if we take our eyes off of the One.
We need to praise God for the closed doors as much as we do the open ones.
He works ALL things together for our good, according to His perfect plan.
He didn’t say He worked only the good, He said He works it all.
We should praise Him for all things because He works all things for our Good!
The Lord’s got you. He knows what you are going through. Remind yourself of that today!
Friend, it’s so easy to get so upset over the little things. But when we recognize our NEED for Jesus in every little thing, we start to see Him in every little thing & it’s easier to be grateful than hurtful.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for our good, for those who are called according to His purpose.